This is not The Hague, this is Amsterdam. This is not a juvenile emigrants' prison but a designer hotel, one of the most extravagant in Europe. Every sleeping room is different. The public space is amazing: a Kakfaesque designer labyrinth.
The Lloyd Hotel is quite literally a redesigned prison. It once held teenage boys, foreigners, under a notoriously harsh regime. My room resembles the prison cell that my indicted ex president Milosevic had in The Hague's war crimes tribunal. It features thick bare walls, a shower barely exposed right in the middle of the room, and a toilet as a hermetic cabin. The room's fourth wall is open glass, exposed to the world, or, rather, the opened spaces and uncurtained windows of Dutch tower blocks.
The local residents, people of Amsterdam, are eating, drinking, watching TV in their uncurtained windows. A couple of blocks away from my hotel, women of all ages, half nude in hooker lingerie, are sitting in windows casually selling their bodies with the utmost indifference. Women of color, mostly, small and plump... The Dutch girls on the streets of Amsterdam are big, blonde, hefty girls, indifferent to the male gaze. The smell of hashish is pervasive. The bicycle people are invasive: the local bikes are extravagantly complicated Dutch devices, like a perversion on wheels.- - - - -
At the Stifo conference, my favorite speaker is a female biotech enthusiast, who speaks of a future where we will be able to eat those we love without hurting them. Thanks to 21st-century meat-production technologies, we will be able to produce from one cell of their body a delicious nutritious meal!
Who do you love? My companion at dinner is a young filmmaker who just came from LA. There she shot a scene with a plastic surgeon specializing in vaginal esthetics. The doctor tells all: the demand on the ground is for the reconstructed vagina of a teenage girl.
In the Amsterdam red-light zone, an NGO founded by an ex-prostitute offers us guided tours of the sex-work district.
Just outside that district I notice the office of War Child, Brian Eno's NGO for help to the stricken areas in the world. I see the name of Kosovo, among other areas. It is gusty weather in Holland, harshly rainy then starkly sunny: a huge glittering rainbow embraces this city, this Euro-Babylon where the name Jasmine, I am told, has become a choice name for the children of hippies.
Well, not hippie children, strictly speaking. That can't be possible at this late date. They must mean hippie grandchildren.
Previous essays by Jasmina Tesanovic on BoingBoing:
- Where are your Americans now?
- Anna Politkovskaya Silenced
- Slaughter in the Monastery
- Mermaid's Trail
- A Burial in Srebenica
- Report from a concert by a Serbian war criminal
- To Hague, to Hague
- Preachers and Fascists, Out of My Panties
- Floods and Bombs
- Scorpions Trial, April 13
- The Muslim Women
- Belgrade: New Normality
- Serbia: An Underworld Journey
- Scorpions Trial, Day Three: March 15, 2006
- Scorpions Trial, Day Two: March 14, 2006
- Scorpions Trial, Day One: March 13, 2006
- The Long Goodbye
- Milosevic Arrives in Belgrade
- Slobodan Milosevic Died
- Milosevic Funeral